MASON

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Chapter 40

His hands were touching me.

Exploring me. His fingers were roaming over my face, tracing the line of my jaw, rubbing my lower lips, caressing it and making my stomach knot tightly. His index finger lightly roamed over the curve of my face and at the same time, he rubbed my cheeks gently. It was as if he was trying to drink me all in together. Letting himself see all of me.

And every time he did it, my breath would be caught.

The fingers that were now dragging through my hair in a soothing touch; he kept tousling my hair and dragging his fingers through it, making me pant with closed eyes as the rush of feelings entered me. Fingers that were rough and raw.

I didn't know how long we had been sitting in the car, and truthfully, I had no idea how we got here, but I only knew we were sitting at the back seat, with our legs tangled together, our chest brushing and our hips joined together as if we would never let go.

It was all too much for me. And at the same time, I wanted more.

And every time his lips parted and he expelled a pent-up breath, I took in his air, filling my body like it was my oxygen.

Everything inside me was in chaos.

And all I knew was that I was flushed and quivering.

One of his hands left my hair and slid down to my arm, lightly caressing it as if it was his aim to torture me. And torture me, he did. With his lips that were grazing over my shoulder, pushing my hair away to feast on my neck. I knew I was making noises, but I could not even hear it from the pounding of my heart.

I urged my hands to move, to touch him, but it was as if my body had completely shut down, abandoned me when I most needed it.

Mason rubbed his nose on my cheek, on my nose, on my forehead; he sniffed my neck, drinking me in, inhaling me like I was a drug he was addicted to. The cocaine he couldn't wait to snort.

And then, he pulled away from me and I stared straight into his eyes, which reflected my own and it was the same heat that I saw in mine. A small smile touched his lips, and it was honestly breathtaking that I found myself hypnotized by it. Mason brushed my hair away and wrapped it around his wrist, tugging it lightly and gently, but it hurt enough to get a cry out of me.

"Why are you staring at me like that?" His raspy voice made the butterflies take flight in my stomach. They're wild and aggressive. Just like him.

Mason could be gentle, he could be wild and aggressive. He could also be the monster under your bed. At any time or day. And he unsettled me in any way. In every way.

From the way he was staring at me right now like he didn't know what part of me to kiss, what part of me to own, but we both knew deep down, that he owned me in every way. If was just a matter of how he was going to handle me, now that I had caged myself with him.

"Like what?" My voice matched his tone.

Then he said, in his deep and sensual voice, low and just for me. "Like you can't believe I'm real," he muttered roughly, staring at me with a breath-stealing intensity.

"Are you?"

Slowly, amusement came to line his features as he bent his head and set a kiss on the back of my ear, and I was breathing hard when he ducked his head to my neck and dragged in a long, deep inhale of me. Before I could blink, he was attacking my lips in a rough kiss, his tongue invading my mouth and taking possession of me.

His hands splayed across my lower back, forcing me even closer than we already were, and I slid my hands up over his shoulders. His tongue plunged into my mouth and withdrew, then plunged again and again, wildly and roughly, driving me mad. The endless, drugging kiss, the warmth of his hands moving ceaselessly over my back, then possessively cupping my cheek before he dragged his lips from mine and drew a long, unsteady breath, slowly expelling it.

"Is that real enough for you?" he growled out, low and deep, in the way he did when he was mad.

My stomach clenched in response to that and I whispered a reply.

He bit down on my lower lip and I could almost taste the blood on it. "I didn't quite hear you. Speak up."

"Y...yes." I stared at his hypnotic eyes, dazedly watching their color and mood change from the dark to their usual enigmatic light silver.

"You want more convincing?" he rasped, tugging my earlobe with his teeth, his haggard breaths straining his chest muscles as he held me and spoke in my ear. "No?"

His voice oozed all kinds of emotions and I found myself shaking my head. "No." Yes. Was what I wanted to say. Not because I needed more convincing, but because I loved the way his lips fitted mine. How soft and intoxicating it was.

Masson grinned as if he knew I didn't mean to say that word. "But that's not what your body says, Lauren. And I'm not exactly sure your mouth wanted to say that. Maybe I haven't kissed you enough to make you forget the word no." He blew his minty breath on my face, his lips hovering above mine, just teasing me.

I stared at his lips, transfixed. "Mason."

He drew his lips even closer, but his eyes were staring at my face as he squeezed my waist, making me catch my breath. "Yeah?" As he spoke, he brushed my hair out of the way.

"I feel...I feel..." Love. Alive. Drugged. All these things I couldn't say to him. I love you. I need you. You're making me feel alive.

What are you doing to me?

"Yeah?" he encouraged, tilting his head to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear and tilted his head again to brush an invisible one.

I peered up and grin, asking, "Can I call you Mace?"

Gazing into my eyes, he gripped the back of my neck, and I stared at him wide-eyed, heat flooding my body as he glared deeply at me.

"Fucking try it and see."

Electric heat sparked through my body, and I had the most insane urge to push his buttons more.

"Come on, it's a good name."

He drew back to give us some room to breathe and arched a brow. "Do you want to try it?"

All the blood in my brain seemed to rush straight to my lower body, and I licked my lips. "Of course not," I said, smiling tentatively. "I'm not stupid."

"Sometimes, you are."

I gasped, and in doing so, made me inhale more of his scent. It should be completely illegal for someone to look and smell so amazing, and be a complete prick. "I can't believe you kissed me and called me stupid. Who does that?"

He laughed softly. It brightened up his face and made him look almost angelic. But Mason was no angel. "Did you expect special treatment, love?" He stroked my lips with his thumb.

I nipped his thumb and smiled as I nodded. "Maybe?"

His brows drew together at that, and my response seemed to have annoyed him. "Well, you aren't getting it. I'm going to kiss you. I'm going to devour you. And I'm going to be an arsehole to you. Take it or leave it."

"I never said I wanted you to change."

"Good."

"But you can be a real dick though."

A muscle ticked in his jaw as he penetrated me with his piercing gray eyes. "Wish there's an ounce of me that gives a damn about what anyone thinks of me. You should know that."

"Am I just anyone?" I tried to ignore the pain that zapped through my chest.

"You drive me absolutely crazy." He pressed me to him and buried his face in my hair. I tucked my nose into his chest and inhaled him at the same time he was inhaling me, and everything falls. No one mattered. No one existed except the two of us.

Alone. In the car.

Nothing mattered more than him, his arms around me and mine around his neck like we both weren't sure if this was real, because we were both squeezing each other so tightly, being affected by our scent, affected by the feeling of his powerful arms around me, when just a few months ago we hated each other.

Just a few days ago I didn't think we would ever be here.

I could hardly breathe, and I didn't need to breathe. I only needed him.

His voice broke the thoughts in my head. "No one pushes me over the edge more than you. You know why? Cause I don't let them. But somehow, you found a way to mess up with my mind, Lauren."

"I don't–"

Roughly, he pulled back and stared into my eyes.

"Talk. How the bloody hell did you manage to turn me into someone that I absolutely hate? Caring isn't something I'm good at. I don't do it." His voice deepened as he gave me his undivided attention.

"Why is that so bad for you?" I asked quietly.

"Because when you start to care about someone, Lauren, they leave you or you're forced to leave them." He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "And when they leave, you're only left with the memories that hurt you"

There was a deeper meaning to his words, something that he still couldn't let go of and I felt the pain in his voice. I wished I knew what he was going through. I wished he would let me lift some of his worries and his pain.

I took his hands in mine.

"I'm not going anywhere." Somehow, that wasn't enough, but I felt like he should know that I would always be there for him. That the very thing capable of hurting us both was gone. He had gotten rid of it for me.

His fierce gaze was trained on me. "I know." And he grabbed my hand and turned me around so that my back was against his chest. He wrapped both arms around me and pulled me into his chest, burying his face into the crook of my neck.

He is spooning me.

I was frozen by the gesture, but it didn't take me a while before I sighed in contentment as we settled into a peaceful silence before I decided to break it.

"How do you know?"

His hand scraped down my hair, softly petting me. Licking and sucking on my shoulder, dragging his teeth across it and setting butterflies kisses on my skin. I hadn't known Mason could be possessive like this, or so touchy.

"If you were going to leave, you would have left me a long time ago," I heard him whisper breathlessly. "I gave you many reasons to."

I closed my eyes and leaned back to enjoy his touches and his wet lips on my skin that was electrifying. "You did, and I did try to. I think I would have been able to." As much as it would have hurt, I wouldn't have gone back to Mason if he still had my mother as his partner. I hated her just as much as I loved him.

"Believe me, Lauren, I wouldn't have let you go so easily."

My eyes snapped open and I sucked in a breath, turning around to gaze at him, trying to hide the flush burning up my cheeks and the pounding on my heart. Was he....? Could he....?

"Why?"

He kissed me long, slow and deep, exploring my mouth with his tongue like he owned it, like he had every right to be doing this. When he pulled back, his eyes were dark. "Does that answer your question?"

It didn't. It left me with only questions.

"Who are you, and what have you done with Mason Campbell?" My voice sounded ragged and a smile I couldn't contain spread across my face.

Mason rolled his eyes and turned me back around.

I decided to ask something that I was curious about. "How did Ginny take it?" I figured she wasn't going to take it well if she knew I was the reason Mason broke the partnership with her, something I had realized was really important to her.

But whatever deal she had with him, I made sure it no longer existed. And little by little, I would draw her away from London and back to wherever she came from. Anywhere that was away from my dad and Mason. But the response I was waiting for didn't come, so I untangled myself from his arms and turned around to face him.

It was like a switch had been flipped inside him and suddenly, all the warmth that had wrapped itself around him was gone; his eyes were now wide open and clearer, wild and feral. The glare he shot me with made my stomach knot.

"Don't fucking ruin the moment, Lauren." His words were not gentle, neither was the look he was giving me.

"We have to, at some point." I should learn to zip my mouth shut and stay clear of the things Mason hated, and at this moment, it was my birth mother he hated the most. My mother he wanted to choke the light out of. But I could definitely see the murderous glare in his eyes right now, one that was reserved for me.

When he realized I was dead set on talking about her, Mason lifted his hands off me and scooted a bit farther away from me. I didn't get offended by it. Mostly because I knew I was the reason he was getting upset.

"You can talk to me about anything–you, me, your friends, even the fucking weather, we can all talk about it all, but not her."

"Why do you hate her? I know why I hate her, but I don't understand why you do."

The look he leveled in my direction was nothing short of annoyance. "There are some things you just can't know, Lauren," he responded, staring me down.

"I thought–"

"You thought what?" he cut me off, his eyes narrowing to slits. "That just because I've kissed you that I'm suddenly going to tell you everything about me?"

"I don't want to know everything about you that you aren't willing to share, Mason. Just the part where my mother fits into your life." He stared at me but didn't acknowledge my statement. "How did you find her and when did you? Where has she been all this time?" I swallowed over the painful lump in my throat.

"I don't need to find her."

"What do you mean?" I asked, worry lines furrowed my brow.

"I've known where she was all along," he eventually admitted, looking me directly in the eye. Tense silence filtered through the car.

My stomach soured.

"Since from the first time I told you about her?"

He took my hand, rubbing circles on the back of my wrist with his thumb. "Since from the beginning."

My right balled into fists at my side, and I chewed on the inside of my mouth. "What do you mean from the beginning? There's no mention of my mother being alive in any of my files, Mason. You couldn't have known she was alive or if I had a mum. Unless–" My stomach fell as I connected the dots, eyes wide as I gazed at him. "From the beginning? You knew her before I came working for you?"

He scowled, bringing my wrist to his mouth, kissing my sensitive skin. "Yes."

My eyes closed for a moment and I willed myself to calm down. To not react based on what he had said without knowing the rest of the story, and wondering where all this was leading. "Is that why you gave me the job? Because I'm her daughter?"

Mason dropped my hand and a cold, harsh glaze draped across his gray eyes. A muscle popped in his jaw. "No."

"How long?" My brow puckered as I stared at him. "For how long have you known her?"

His eyes bored into mine, and silence descended for a few beats before he slowly said, "That's a million dollar question."

"For. How. Long?"

His chest inflated and deflated, and he grinds down on his teeth, his jaw pulsing. "Not long. But does it matter how long I have known her? She isn't a bother anymore, so drop it."

Not long? I wasn't sure if that admission was deliberate or unplanned, and I had no clue if it was genuine, but all I could do was eat all the information he was giving me even though it was little and less than I wanted.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on a computer and google them both. If neither of them wasn't telling me anything, it was up to me to do some research. But it wasn't like the internet was going to offer everything excepts bits and pieces of a mystery.

Slowly, I inched a bit closer and raised my hand, running my fingers lightly through the silky strands of his dark hair, so soft. "It doesn't sound like Ginny is going to drop it. She's a woman with a cause," I whispered, having no idea why I was whispering.

He grabbed the nape of my neck and pulled me to him. "Are you worried about me?" he whispered, sending tingles skating over my skin.

"That's probably insulting to you."

He was smart enough to divert the topic off Ginny and focused it on something else. There was history between him and her, that much was clear, and my gut was telling all the answers that I needed was staring at me in the face, only I was unable to unlock it.

"I can take care of myself, Lauren. The only thing you need to worry about is me letting you go back inside." He tucked a stray lock of hair behind my ear while burrowing his gaze into mine.

Butterflies scattered in my chest and made a nest in my heart. "Why won't you let me go back?"

He trailed the tip of his finger around my jawline, and I sucked in a sharp breath as his electrifying touch heightened all my senses.

"Because you're coming with me," he admitted in a softer tone, his eyes fixing on my mouth.

"But Beth–"

He rubbed his thumb across my lower lip, and I was barely breathing at this point, trailing my fingers through his hair as he continued to rub his thumb across my lip while staring at my mouth.

"Beth will be fine. I'm sure she's used to being alone now and can't wait to get rid of you."

I glared at him.

"People want to be in my presence, you know?"

"Text her and let her know you're back home with me."

"I left my phone inside. I'll just go—"

He grabbed the edge of my shirt and roughly pulled me back down before I could open the door and walk out. I found myself smashed against his chest as he circled his arm around my waist.

"I'll get you a new one."



There was only person I knew I could count to get me the answers that I needed.

Aaron.

I told him it was confidential and he wasn't allowed to tell anyone, not even his boyfriend. I was the only one who knew that Aaron had a side job when he was in university. I wouldn't have known about it if he hadn't accidentally blurted it out for me when he was drunk.

He used to get paid to dig up dirt and find information to use on people. It hadn't been a proud job, but whatever he did, it was to survive and not because he had enjoyed helping someone blackmail people or ruin their lives. I was the only one who knew his dark secret and I had sworn to secrecy that I wouldn't let anyone know about it.

This time around, I asked him as a friend to investigate into Mason and Ginny, what connection they had between them because I wasn't going to get my answers without looking. If it came to it, he could stalk Ginny and snoop around Mason's office.

The latter could be easy because, at this moment, Mason and I were sitting in his private plane. After he got me a phone at that same night, he took us directly to the airport, and if I hadn't protested about being uncomfortable with the clothes I was wearing, there was no way he would have made someone get me something suitable to wear. And I wasn't even going to ask how he got a hold of my passport so quickly as if he knew we would be taking this trip tonight.

And when I had been in the restroom changing into a pair of jeans and a shirt with flats, I had called Aaron and asked him to investigate. He had been a bit surprised, but excited. I guess some part of him really missed doing these stuff.

The thought of Mason finding out what I was doing made my stomach clench. He would be so furious, but it was Aaron's job that would be on the line. Even though I had asked him to help me, I had voiced my worries, but Aaron had dismissed it. Apparently, he was positive no would find out what he was doing. Not even Mason.

Did that calm me down? Not really.

"Where are we going exactly?" I shot my question at the man sitting in front of me with only a small table preventing us from jumping at each other and making the flight attendants blush. "Are you a wanted man? Is that why you made us leave without even getting our clothes?"

Instead of replying, Mason lifted his newspaper higher so that it completely blocked me from seeing his face–and let's be real, it was my face he was blocking. It was enough to get a small laugh out of me.

Some things would really never change, huh?

"Remember what happened last time when you took me to Scotland without telling me we were going there?"

He dropped the newspaper, a flash of anger, and something darker, glinted in his eyes, but it was gone before I could decipher it. He slammed the paper on the table and made a fist, slowly rubbing his knuckles. He was sitting stiffly in the seat as if every bone in his body was wired tight.

"Where do you wanna go, Lauren?"

"What do you mean where do I want to go? Do you not know we are going?" At his poker face, I struggled not to laugh or gasp, resorting to shaking my head in disbelief. "So, you got us on a plane with no destination?"

"Choose," he ordered.

I ran my hand through my hair, never taking my eyes off him. "Uhm, can't believe I'm being asked this, but I can't think of any place to go. Usually, I would have blurted out, but my mind is so blank right now. Where do I even say? I can't–"

"Lauren," he interrupted. "Do you want me to choose?"

I smiled. "I trust you."

That seemed to take him aback and he gave me a suspicious stare. "You do?"

"I think I really do."

He didn't say anything else. Just continued to stare at me as his hand reached for a phone I didn't know was there and pressed it to his ear.

"Take us to Paris," I heard him say into the phone before he put it back to its rightful place.

"You know."

A smug smile spread across his features.

"Did I know your blabbing was a game to get me to choose? Yes. Did you think I don't know where you've always wanted to go?"

A wide, impressive smile appeared on my face.

"You passed the test. You've been paying attention, Mr. Campbell." I didn't know he caught on what I was trying to do, but he proved me wrong. I was so sure he wouldn't guess the right answer.

"More than I should have," he admitted softly.

I continued to stare with an open smile, and my heart thudded in my chest, and heat flooded my core as my eyes lowered to his mouth.

"Come here, Lauren." Snapping my head up at the way my name rolled seductively off his tongue, it did funny things to my insides. When I didn't move, he repeated, "Come here."

My heart thumped wildly behind my rib cage at the intensity in his eyes. "You're hot when you're bossy," I teased to cut the tension that was palpable. I teased him so he wouldn't see me crossing my legs. "Maybe you know that. Maybe that's why you love it."

He looked pissed off, like he wanted to break out of his seat and reach me just to tear me apart with his teeth. And the thought was so hot in my mind that I could very well let him do it.

"If you don't get here in five seconds, you're going to pay for it," he spat out and I grinned.

"Sounds exciting."

"One—"

"Did you bring the handcuffs?" I purred, raising my hands. "My wrists are dying to be tied."

His eyes penetrated mine like laser beams. "Two—"

"Or maybe a tie would do. I'm sure the pilot wouldn't mind borrowing me his tie if he knows it's for a good cause."

"Four—"

I was up on my feet and into his welcoming arms that secured around me. His hand pressed a button before the chair started to lean back until I was completely on top of him, staring down into his eyes with a shaky breath.

He reached and used his thumb to tuck a loose strand of hair behind my ear, his voice thickening. "Hi," he said, and a shiver went through me as he ran a back of a finger down my jaw.

"Hi," I returned back breathlessly, memorizing his face. The squared jaw. The kissable lips. The dark hair.The grey eyes that watched me with so much intensity and mischief.

I loved that he was mine. All of him. Even if he didn't know it yet.

"Don't ever cut your hair."

"I might be going bald," I taunt with a smile.

"I'd burn down the salon and make the woman who cut your hair pay. I'd run her out of the country," he threatened, and I hundred percent believe he could do that. Mason was good at following up on his threats.

A laugh erupted out of me. "And what if it was me?"

"Your punishment is different. Don't even try me, Lauren."

"But it's my hair! I get to do what—"

His eyes darken, and he dropped his hand at his side, clamping his jaw into a firm line. I was left to place both my hands on his chest to prevent myself from falling off. A part of me believed he did that so I could fall, but another part of me didn't think so.

"Finish that sentence, I dare you."

I slide my fingers under his Henley, feeling the bumps of his packs and savoring the feel of his soft skin under my fingertips. "Fine, but it's only fair you do something for me as well."

"No."

"But–"

"No."

Pressing myself into his body, I shifted my body so I was fully on top of him like I was his second skin. I pressed my forehead to his with a pout.

"How is that fair?"

His chuckle was low and I felt it all over my skin.

"Life isn't fair." He cupped one side of my face and I felt his breath bathed my face as he slowly eliminated the distance between our mouths.

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